Top things to do in Clutha

Explore amazing wildlife, wonderful waterfalls, beautiful beaches along with a rich gold mining heritage.

Check out the top things to do in Clutha.

1. Nugget Point Lighthouse

The iconic lookout at Nugget Point offers sensational views out to the huge horizon. The 1869 lighthouse is perched on this panoramic platform with the rock formations which gave this special spot its name a haven for wildlife. You can even kayak round the rocks to get a whole new perspective. Further south in the Catlins are the breathtaking Cathedral Caves set into the coastal cliffs on a beautiful beach.

2. Penguins and wildlife

Clutha is home the world’s smallest and rarest penguins along with the planet’s most endangered sea lions and smallest dolphins. You can also see fur seals, elephant seals and even wild goats. In case that wasn’t enough there are some of the South’s rarest birds like the Mohua (yellowhead), rifleman and parakeets along with some of the best birdsong with lots of tuis and bellbirds. Let’s not forget the shags, herons, kingfishers, gannets and oystercatchers. Oh and the rivers are full of some of the best brown trout.

3. Taste of Clutha Trail

Get a taste of authentic local home-grown produce by visiting local farms for fresh cheese, pure honey, all organic veggies and fresh lamb and other meat produce.  Eat local and meet the locals who actually made it and grew it! You can also buy direct from farms and enjoy the whole experience of the farm-grown Kiwi produce with the Taste of Clutha Trail.(opens in new window)

4. Waterfalls of Clutha and the Catlins

There are six separate spectacular falls all close to each other in the Catlins. Each has its own feel and character with beautiful bush walks to each and every one. Triple tiered Purakaunui or majestic McLean, the double delight of Matai (opens in new window)and Horseshoe and the slightly more hidden gems of Koropuku (on the Chaslands Highway) and Barr falls (just south of Owaka).

5. Clutha's quirky characters

Explore the Owaka Museum(opens in new window), a 3D story book telling tales of the rugged pioneers from Maori to European settlers who carved out a life in this pristine wilderness. While Earthlore embraces the clean, green, conservation credentials that encapsulate the Catlins. It’s the country’s only insect theme park festooned with fun and frolics for all the family. Last but not least nearby in Papatowai in the legendary Lost Gypsy where innovation and invention rule creating magic, mirth and merriment.

6. The Blue Mountains of Clutha

Get far away from the madding crowds and back to nature with delights like Whisky Gully and Black Gully. Or feeling more intrepid then hike along the ridge tops and enjoy amazing views, you can even see Stewart Island on a clear day. There is a fantastic camp ground along with basic, affordable huts so you can stay and play.

7. Tackle the Clutha Gold Cycle Trail

Lawrence was at the heart of one of the world’s fastest ever gold rushes and the town still very much celebrates its rich Victorian Heritage. The town happens to be where the first ever cycle was built in New Zealand which is fitting as Lawrence is now the start or finish of the Clutha Gold Cycle Trail  which weaves its way through the area’s historic past and follows the emerald green giant that is the country’s largest, fastest, most voluminous river, Clutha. 

8. Lake Waihola, Wetlands and Waipori

Lake Waihola is New Zealand’s most inland tidal lake and is a great place to fish, kayak or waterski. Right next door are the internationally renowned Sinclair Wetlands which feel like a different world with walkways to little islands. Get further off the beaten track by hugging the river and heading up to the lost village of Waipori Falls swathed in native forest and be rewarded with the treat of seeing Crystal Falls snaking through a rocky gorge.

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